[This is the full, 26-minute highlight package of the Air&Style Beijing. If you have the time, check it. If not, peep the top 3 tricks in the Finals below.]
Check the videos and read the report from the finals of the Air&Style Beijing, where Ulrik Badertscher blew the field away with his signature backside 1260 double cork to claim the title.
After much debate about whether kicker contests were in danger of becoming back 10 fests (in our office at least), the first major 6-Star TTR event of the season exploded any fears with a frantic, varied and we'd have to say awesome display of next level jumping at the Beijing Air&Style.
Unfairly maligned for his backside 1620 nute that popped up a few years ago (Ok, it was to steeze what Fosters is to beer), Ulrik Badertscher showed what those in the know already could tell you - he is a very good snowboarder, with a unique style to boot, and is far from the freakish whirling dervish that 1620 clip suggested. The fact that he's apparently Halldor Helgason's favourite snowboarder speaks volumes of what Ulrik's riding's all about. We'd had our brains baffled by Ulrik's winning trick a few months ago when we printed a sequence of it in the print mag and had to struggle with naming it for the caption. The axes he goes through on that spin are unlike anything we'd seen - it's not flat and not super corked, but there's certainly a couple of dips in there - and to see him put them down time after time as clean as a whistle was quite something.
In many ways it was a funny contest. The stream didn't kick in till after the qualis and the first round were done, so we didn't get to see favourite Mark McMorris get put to the sword by Ståle Sandbech's first ever contest backside 1440 in the first round but we were tuned in to see the almost unheard of sight of both Seb Toutant and Seppe Smits falling, and failing to make the last round. Toutant's cab double 12 wasn't enough to quench the flames of an on-fire Badertscher while Seppe even washed out of the regulation back 10 he opted for to try and scrape through his heat - to us it looked like he was hurting pretty bad from an awkward fall a hit or two prior to that. He didn't look right, and Nils Arvidsson looked slightly embarrassed to sneak into the final in such a manner.
The final was an all-scando affair. Sandbech, Badertscher and the ludicrously smooth Torstein Horgmo were flying the flag for Norway while Arvidsson had to face down his noisy neighbours for the Swedes. After being the first rider to attempt a triple cork at the Oxborn Session a couple years back, you could tell that Nils was having a sniff of tripling the light fantastic on two of his three hits, but every time he pulled out after two inversions. Not putting anything down in such company was always going to leaving him in 4th. Ståle had landed his first ever backside 1440 earlier in the contest and figured the only way he could answer his compatriot's tricks was to land one again, which he did, however the grab was gone after 900 leaving the last 540 a bit helicoptered, and the landing scruffed.
It really came down to Torstein vs Ulrik, and it must be said that for all the noise about double corks taking snowboarding in a bad direction, when they're done the way Horgmo does 'em their aesthetic quality would make angels sing. His switch frontside double 10s were so composed, so smooth, so darn lazy and so well stomped we thought he'd be scored higher, and then when on his final hit he pulled a regular front 10 dub and added in a fully intentional shifty we couldn't help thinking the judges missed it.
Nevertheless, even if they did see it it wouldn't probably have rained on Ulrik's parade. That trick is so unique, stylish and he stomps it like it ain't no thang. While the one he did to win was not his best, it was still enough to make it a great win for him and a fine-looking podium for Norway.
1 - Ulrik Badertscher
2 - Torstein Horgmo
3 - Ståle Sandbech
4 - Nils Arvidsson
Red Bull Best Trick
Ulrik Badertscher - Double corked backside 1260